Trying to make sense of the world at the moment is really no more challenging that it has been in the past, most of the issues that have traditionally been ignored have risen to the surface. The designer in me keeps wanting to ask ‘why’ and more importantly keeps asking, ‘how.’
Government censorship. A grossly dishonest media. Inaccurate accounts of history. Personal censorship. Zero personal accountability for most people in positions of power. Corrupt value systems, well, a distinct lack of value systems. Poorly paid teachers. A crumbling education structure. No art. No music. Contrived identities – forced senses of self. Poverty. A squelching of creativity, and creative thought, of internal exploration on a massive, massive scale.
Whether we want to believe it or not we have cornered ourselves into believing that we can account for the human experience in charts, graphs, in numerics, and in data that explains the hows in order to justify the why. But the fundamental questions that are being felt are philosophical ones, and are not being met with the conversation required to inspire real change.
So, the why.
A gross simplification for me is the lack of education, space, and time dedicated to teaching kids about creativity – especially those in impoverished communities and communities of color.
Art is seen as a waste of time, or an activity for the wealthy few with the time to dedicate to pursuing what society has indirectly communicated to be…frivolous. The mindset communicated is that art is pointless. Budget cuts in schools reinforce this. A capitalist approach on having to purchase supplies reinforces this. Music is seen in the same light…as being an accessible pursuit for a gilded few.
What’s being lost when creativity is not valued isn’t the technical understanding of how to work paint, or how to read music, it’s brain development, thought leadership, learning collaboration, having space to explore the self, philosophical concepts, connection to the past, immersion of cultural stories, a broadening of perspective of human history…these things foster critical thinking and more importantly, critical questioning.
You cannot measure this in data. The number of lives that have been altered for the better cannot be shown on a line.
But I can guarantee that if you speak with anyone in your circle, anyone outside your circle, and anyone struggling you will hear a primal understanding of how creating something has saved someones life. Literally, saved someone’s life.
So, the how.
When processes are viewed as products – think K-12 education – we lose an integral part of learning that keeps human beings pushing the boundaries of their own lives.
Product-Focused Art is when a child begins a project knowing what the end product should look like and they follow a set of instructions to get to their goal. Product-focused art have a right and wrong way to work on the project and typically require a specific skill and technique to reach that end goal.
Process-Focused Art is when a child is given an open-ended project and they have the opportunity to express themselves through their work. Though process-focused art can end up being a gift or decoration, however the artwork turns out is based on your child’s discovery and creativeness. (source)
Human beings by default are emotional, creative, passionate, exploratory creatures. We were born to have experiences, and do something with them. When those outlets are taken away the human experience is stunted and cognitive dissonance starts to happen.
The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.
If the ability to explore, learn, play, and work within a structure with no expectations is removed, we’re not only denying basic human impulses and motivations, we’re losing the ability to train young developing minds to externally comment about their life experiences in a healthy, meaningful way.
When the knowledge of healthy outlets for those life experience goes away almost completely, human beings are left with emotional impulses as the sole driver for decision making. I believe that’s what we’re seeing now in the world, anger, sadness, depression, rage, and confusion of self, morality, values, culture….with no understanding of where that energy can go.
Sure, anyone can go pick up a pencil, but the accessibility isn’t one of material means. When you educate kids without art, music, or creative expression in a system that’s gaslit us all into thinking these things have no value…guess what, they have no perceived value so no one engages with them. And the resulting frustration around the lack of expression walks into adulthood with us is, I believe, one of the primary reasons we’re experiencing cognitive dissonance on such a mass scale.
In a small plea, I ask everyone to please reevaluate their relationship with art and music, and try to recognize its importance in all of our lives.
And guess what? The capitalist guilt tripping that creativity is a luxury commodity is a bunch of shit.
You can engage with it for free.